FASB proposes goodwill evaluation relief for some private companies, NFPs

By Ken Tysiac

FASB issued a proposal Monday that is designed to reduce complexity and cost for certain private companies and not-for-profits, related to goodwill assessments performed in response to triggering events.

Private companies and not-for-profits that only report goodwill (or accounts that would be affected by a goodwill impairment, such as retained earnings and net income) on an annual basis would be permitted to perform a goodwill triggering assessment and any resulting test for goodwill impairment on the annual reporting date only, under the proposal.

The proposal would eliminate the requirement for eligible companies and organizations to perform this assessment during interim reporting periods, limiting it to the annual reporting date only.

Under current GAAP, goodwill is required to be tested when a triggering event occurs that makes it more likely than not that the fair value of the reporting unit is below its carrying value. Preparers are required to monitor for and evaluate goodwill triggering events as they occur throughout the year.

FASB received questions about the value of evaluating a triggering event at an interim date when certain private companies and not-for-profits only issue GAAP-compliant financial statements on an annual basis. The board is seeking to eliminate the cost and complexity of preparing interim balance sheets and projecting cash flows that may not be relevant at the annual reporting date when financial statements are issued.

Some preparers encountered such cost and complexity this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic fallout from the pandemic was a triggering event for many entities. However, some of them recovered long before the end of their reporting periods, rendering the early-pandemic goodwill evaluation and testing unnecessary for those that have recovered and are reporting on only an annual basis.

The proposed alternative would be limited to goodwill tested for impairment in accordance with FASB ASC Subtopic 350-20, Intangibles — Goodwill and Other — Goodwill. The guidance would be available on an ongoing basis and not limited to a specific period. No additional disclosures would be required.

Comments can be submitted through Jan. 20 at FASB’s website.

Ken Tysiac (Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com) is the JofA’s editorial director.

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